January 24, 2021

Of Swords And Plowshares

BarneyFifeI am old. Not so much old-fashioned as just old. So when I say I am seeing things now I didn’t see growing up, there is a lot of water that has passed under the bridge of time. I’m not talking about the horseless carriage (I’m not that old), nor even the cell phone (but I do remember the bag phone).

I’m talking about churches using armed guards during worship services.

In the church I attended until recently, an off-duty police officer is hired to be present for both Sunday morning services. He wears a shirt proclaiming him a police officer, and his gun is clearly on display. He even passes the plate when ushers are in short supply.

I know a man who is the fulltime bodyguard and security officer at a small megachurch here in town. He has his revolver concealed under his suit coat, and has an earpiece allowing him to listen to others who are watching video monitors and communicating any potential threats to the pastor. He walks the pastor to and from the stage area, making sure no one gets too close.

Then there is the largest church in my town. They employ a small army of uniformed police officers both inside and outside of the church building. They are unsmiling reminders not to make any sudden moves or, heaven forbid, attempt to take a child under the age of two into the sanctuary. (Really—you’re not allowed to do that.) And as this preacher does not ever mix with the congregation, there are plainclothes security personnel to keep you on your side and God’s anointed ones on their side.

I cannot ever recall seeing armed guards in a church service until after the turn of the millennium. There probably were some in some churches before then, but now it seems it has become a status symbol. You know, “My church has more guns than your church.” Who wants to attend a church where there are no badges on display?

Yes, I know that there have been a few instances of people being shot while in a church service. But if you take all of the services conducted in our nation every Sunday, and multiply that times 52 weeks in a year, I think you have a better chance of being selected for the first mission to Mars than you do encountering a gunman in church this or any year. It would be a different case if you went to church in Egypt or Nigeria, but across our land, I am not sure I see the need for the sword in a worship service.

I wrote on Sunday about becoming vulnerable. What kind of message do we send when we have guards to put up the facade of all things being under control, of everything being safe? Is that what God calls the church to be?

I am going to let you flesh this out. What are your thoughts on armed guards in church services? A necessary evil in the world we live in today? Or is it an attempt to control what we need to leave in God’s hands?


  1. I am dumbfounded. This is shocking!
    As for Nigeria, hope they send missionaries here. ““We will not encourage our people to carry arms against anybody whatsoever the situation may be….” http://christianpacifismblog.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/news-war-and-christians/

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